brown Inch worm with yellow hat (Parasitized caterpillar - Chalcid wasp)

by Wendy
(Mississippi)


Brown appx. 1" long with yellow mass on back

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Parasitized caterpillar - Chalcid wasp
by: Moni

Wendy
Your inchworm has been parasitized by a small wasp. The parasites are the larval stage of Euplectrus, a chalcid wasp parasitoid.
This genus of chalcid wasp lays eggs on butterfly and moth caterpillars.

This chalcid wasp is very small. It is mostly black with tan to yellowish spot on it's abdomen as well as has lighter colored legs and antennae.
The larvae are usually found in clusters like you see on the parasitized caterpillar. If the clusters or bumps you see are fuzzy, then the larva has pupated into a cocoon.


We talk about good bugs and bad bugs in the garden. The wasp is a good bug since it will lay eggs on many pest species of caterpillars, which will stop the caterpillar from feeding, which reduces damage to our garden crops. As the larvae from the wasp emerge, and feed on the caterpillar it will die...keeping the caterpillar from maturing. These caterpillars should be left alone, so the wasps can emerge and do their thing.

This inchworm may not be a pest species but these wasps do keep the populations of many caterpillars in check. Balance of nature.
Interesting find! Thanks for sharing with everyone!

This wasp does not sting.

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Big brown caterpillar (Imperial moth caterpillar)

by Maggie
(Ontario)

What is this?

What is this?

I was guessing a hawkmoth or imperial but have no idea what this is.

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Imperial moth caterpillar
by: Moni

Maggie
Yes, your caterpillar is that of an Imperial moth. A close up photo would have helped, but the rear coloration is distinct to know which of the silkmoth caterpillars it is.

These are found in eastern US, Ontario and Quebec.
This is one of the silkmoth (Saturniidae family) caterpillars...most get very large ... rather spectacular in color and size! The caterpillars are come in light to dark green in color, or brownish ones like you found can vary from orangish to chocolate brown.

This caterpillar feeds on leaves of Bald Cypress, basswood, birch, cedar, elm, hickory, Honeylocust, maple, oak, pine, Sassafras, Sweetgum, sycamore, walnut.


They have one generation per year in the north, two in the south. It may be moving to find a place in the soil to pupate and live for the winter. They pupate in a mulched or leaf litter area underground in loose soil.

Adult moths do not feed and do come to lights at night.

Tho this caterpillar is a bit hairy and bristly it does not sting or cause a rash.

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Brown caterpillar with yellow slashes (Salt marsh caterpillar)

by Ed Lau



Seems to love peas, that was where it was found, in Jackson Hole, WY.

Appears to be about 2" long.
Prominent yellow 'slashes' along the side.
'Tufts', not spikes, along the body, which seems to be predominantly brown.

I have two pictures, top and side, I don't know if I can upload both...

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Salt marsh caterpillar
by: Moni

Ed
Your caterpillar is probably the salt marsh caterpillar. Without a clearer photo, especially of the head, we can not be positive. These caterpillars are highly variable, they can be a challenge to ID.
The caterpillars do vary a lot in color and look like several fall fuzzy caterpillars, but if it has a black face then you know it is a salt marsh. If it has a yellowish face then it is the other fuzzy caterpillar the Virginian Tiger moth.

They turn into white moths with black dots on the wings and with orange abdomens. The male moths have colored hind wings while the female hind wings are usually white.

The caterpillars come in various colors - whitish to brown to black, with long bristly hairs.

This caterpillar is found in weedy roadsides, prairie grasslands, meadows, and such areas. Larvae feed on many mostly weedy plants including pigweed, ground cherry and mallow, plus crops such as alfalfa, asparagus, bean, beet, cabbage, carrot, celery, clover, corn, cotton, lettuce, onion, pea, potato, soybean, tobacco, tomato, and turnip.
They are not considered a pest.

These insects are found all over North America.
The moths come to lights at night.

This caterpillar will not sting or cause a rash.

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large green caterpillar (Carolina Sphinx - Tobacco hornworm)

by Katie
(Louisville, KY)


Found this caterpillar after it had eaten nearly all the leaves on my tomato plant. Located in Louisville, KY. It was a pretty quick eater - took the whole plant down in about 48hrs. There was another smaller caterpillar (same type) on the plant.

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Carolina Sphinx - Tobacco hornworm
by: Moni

Katie
Your caterpillar is the Carolina sphinx or tobacco hornworm. It feeds on all of the solanaceous plants which include tomato, potato, eggplant and peppers.
Like you noticed, if you find one, there are usually more. The most common sign of them is stripped foliage and the dark droppings they leave after eating.

The adult moth is large, gray, and has six pairs of yellow spots on its abdomen. They fly at dusk and can be mistaken for a hummingbird. The moth feeds on nectar of deep-throated flowers like honeysuckle, moonflower, or petunia.

This caterpillar has 7 angled white lines along the side while its relative the tomato hornworm has 8. The tobacco hornworm also has a red tail while the tomato hornworm has a black tail...seems like it should be the other way around!
There are 2 or more generations per year depending on location. They are found thru out North America.

They can be a pest of tomatoes, as you have learned the hard way. There are parasitic wasps that lay eggs in the hornworms that keep them under control most of the time. If you see tufts of white little cotton-ball looking things on the caterpillar...do not kill the caterpillar! Those are the good bugs controlling your pest. That hornworm will not eat anymore...it will die since the wasp has eaten it from the inside.

If you need to control them, just pick off and smash or drop in warm soapy water.

This caterpillar does not bite or sting.

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Green caterpillar (Hackberry emperor caterpillar )

by Nicolr
(Norfolk, VA)



Found in Norfolk, Virginia on August 23. It was just crawling along my deck railing.

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Hackberry emperor caterpillar
by: Moni

Nicolr
Your caterpillar is the hackberry emperor. This caterpillar feeds on hackberry tree leaves. These are typically found in wooded areas.

The adult butterfly is brown with distinctive spots on the wings. The caterpillars and adults look similar to the tawny emperor.

The adults feed on sap, fluids from dung and carrion. They will also sit on people to sip on the minerals and salts from sweat. :)

This insect is found through out North America except the NW quadrant.

Tho the caterpillar is spiny it will not sting nor cause a rash.

Thanks for the nice photo and adding this insect to our list!

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Yellowish White Caterpillar with a tail? (White-marked tussock moth caterpillar)

by Taylor Brewer
(Frankfort, Kentucky)


This little dudes on my porch right now. I didn't touch it because it looks evil! It has red spots on it. Can anyone identify it? I've never seen one before. I'm in Frankfort KY

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White-marked tussock moth caterpillar
by: Moni

Taylor
Your insect is a white-marked Tussock moth caterpillar (Orgyia leucostigma).

These are common in the eastern half of North America in wooded areas. They overwinter as eggs then emerge in spring, go thru several larval stages then turn into the moth. The female moth is flightless. The male moth is brown with a distinctive darker pattern and a single white spot on each forewing.

Caterpillars feed on many hardwood or conifer trees.

CAUTION: Avoid handling the caterpillar, its hair is known to cause allergic reactions, especially in areas of the body with sensitive skin. If a severe reaction occurs, seek medical attention.

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Dark Horned Smooth Caterpillar (Hickory Horned Devil caterpillar)

by Sherry M.
(Whispering Pines, NC USA)

Almost 4 inches long

Almost 4 inches long

Almost 4 inches long
found on gravel driveway

Found in Whispering Pines, NC (Moore County) USA, crawling on our gravel driveway. I let it crawl into a clear bowl for photographing. My 4 year old daughter saw it first, and we photographed it and looked on the internet to identify it...but couldn't see a picture just like it (it has no "hair").
Thank you for your help in identifying this creature. We released it back into my flowerbed after about 10 minutes.

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Hickory Horned Devil caterpillar
by: Moni

Sherry
You have found a hickory horned devil caterpillar. They turn into a beautiful large moth called the Regal moth (some call it the Royal Walnut moth).

The larvae feed on leaves of ash, burning bush, butternut, cotton, gum, hickory, lilac, pecan, persimmon, sumac, sycamore, and walnut. The larva pupate in the soil.

Adult moths of this family do not feed. It overwinters as a pupa.

Thank you for letting it go. It may be crawling around to look for a place to pupate for the winter.

Tho the caterpillar looks dangerous, it is harmless.

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Grey furry caterpillar (Davis' Tussock moth caterpillar)

by Robin Pollard
(Pritchett, CO, USA)


Discovered this caterpillar on our mulberry tree in Southeast Colorado (Pritchett, CO) MUNCHING with hundreds of its brothers and sisters. I care for many black swallowtail and sometimes monarch babies in the garden but this is my whole tree (close to 80 yrs in age) and these guys are asking too much!

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Davis' Tussock moth caterpillar
by: Moni

Robin
Your caterpillar will turn into a Davis' tussock moth. This is one of the tiger moths...family Erebidae. The moths are a light cream color with a few cool orange geometric spots on the wings and an orange body!

Though these are eating a lot of your mulberry tree foliage this year, if it is 80 yrs old, it will be fine. Large trees like that can take a lot of feeding damage and not be affected. If they are defoliated for many years in a row, then you would be concerned. This is part of Nature's cycle.

These caterpillars are also known to eat oak,sumac, and hackberry trees which are from different tree families than the mulberry.

The Davis' tussock moth is found in the southern tier of states in North America. Adult moths fly from July to August.

Best not to handle... some tussock caterpillars can cause a rash to the skin from the tiny hairs.

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Green Caterpiller With Bush Spikes (Io moth caterpillar)

by Kimberly
(Citrus springs florida )


Look like green bushy spikes and red ring around side of body

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Io moth caterpillar
by: Moni

Kimberly
Your beautiful caterpillar will turn into the Io moth, Automeris io, one member of the silk moth family - Saturniidae.

They feed on a wide variety of plants including birches, clover, corn, elms, maples, oaks, willows, roses, cotton, hibiscus, azaleas, palms, and even some grasses.

They are not a pest.

The caterpillars stay in clusters early on, but will separate as they mature.

They leave the host plant to form a cocoon, usually in leaf litter. There may be up to four generations in the south, but usually just one in the north.

These insects are found in eastern North America west to AZ.

Caution: The caterpillars may "sting" if handled.
The larger the caterpillar the more intense the stinging sensation caused by the spines. Glad you checked on this one.


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Fuzzy little white caterpillar (Virginian tiger moth caterpillar)

by Colleen
(Bethelem, PA)





I am finding more of these tiny (about 1/2" long) caterpillars...I find them in my marigolds and today in mint.
Are they good or bad?
This year in my garden I have very very few bad bugs! and tons of butterflies and bees.
I planted a lot of zinnias and assorted flowers between my vegetables.
So I do want to id these caterpillars.
ColleenMS

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Virginian tiger moth caterpillar
by: Moni

Colleen
Your caterpillar is a Virginian Tiger Moth larvae - also called the yellow wooly bear . These caterpillars come in various colors. These caterpillars look very similar to the salt marsh caterpillar, however these have yellowish heads while the salt marsh have black heads.

These are found throughout most of North America. The caterpillars feed on many low growing plants like docks, thistles, plantains and dandelions, as well as shrubs and trees. In my garden I have seen them on lambsquarters, pigweed, green beans besides other plants and weeds.
They are not a pest of the garden. They may eat a few leaves of our garden plants, but will not destroy any.
Winter is spent as a pupa in a fuzzy cocoon.

The adults are white moths that have a few black dots on the wings. They have a row of black spots on their abdomens. The moths do come to lights at night.

These caterpillars do not cause a rash nor sting.

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Black headed caterpillars (Dogwood sawfly larvae)

by Rodrica
(southern Vermont)


Found several clusters of these on underside of ornamental dogwood shrub today. They are not eating much and I like to encourage moths and butterflies. They are yellow underneath and black or brown? stripes on top (their backs?)Right now, noon on a rather hot, muggy day they are not eating..curled up with each other...resting?

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Dogwood sawfly larvae
by: Moni

Rodrica
This caterpillar is the larvae of the dogwood sawfly (Macremphytus tarsatus), which is in the wasp order(Hymentoptera) of insects.

When the larvae are small they are covered with a white waxy coating then as they mature you see the colors like yours. They feed on all the different dogwoods and can cause significant defoliation. The larvae overwinter as pupa in rotting wood.

The adults are wasp-like sawflies that emerge in late spring to early summer. They then lay eggs on the undersides of the leaves. There is one generation per year.
This sawfly is found in the eastern half of North America.

If your shrubs begin to be defoliated, for control if you only have a few you can hand pick and destroy the larva. They are controlled in nature by parasitic wasps. However, if damage to the plant foliage is to the point of defoliating the plant before the larvae size reaches 1" long then horticultural oil or insecticidal soap may be applied.

This insect does not bite or sting.

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Very bright pink, almost wormlike, caterpillar (Gray hooded owlet caterpillar)

by Jessica
(Houston, TX, USA)

Hot Pink Caterpillar

Hot Pink Caterpillar

Very bright pink (fuschia), translucent caterpillar with pink strip down back. I thought it was a worm at first because of its movement and the very slick (hairless) exterior, but it was too fast and didn't inch, but rather, crawled. It looks like a piece of candy! It had some spots, but they look like damage, not like a pattern. The head is clearish-pink and the tail end just has the tiniest little tails sticking out in a V-shape. Almost unnoticeable. I saw this in Spring, TX in October. I have never seen anything like it and I have lived in Houston my whole life.

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Gray hooded owlet caterpillar
by: Moni

Jessica
Your caterpillar looks like the gray hooded owlet caterpillar. It would be good to have a side view besides the top view of the caterpillar to be absolutely sure. Your photo is also much brighter pink than most seen. Many of these caterpillars vary in color...most are green to light pink to pink with the light stripe down the back.

This caterpillar turns into a long slender brown moth that looks like it has a hood over its head.
The caterpillar eats flowers and leaves of plants in the aster family, which is a big family including asters, daisies, sunflowers, dandelions, mums, chicory, zinnias, chamomile, marigolds, etc.

It is not a pest.

This caterpillar is found over most of North America except in the southwestern part of the US.

This caterpillar does not bite nor cause a rash.


THANKS!
by: Anonymous

I've been wondering about this. The closest thing I found was angulose prominent, but with the diff colors, I wasn't sure. Thank you for all the details, too! ☺ I checked, but I didn't have any real side shots of it. I'm wondering what age it is, though?

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black caterpillar with white band (Black swallowtail caterpillar )

by Mayo
(Sebring FL)


about 1" long, black with small 'spikes', orange dots and a white band around its middle. It was found as it happily stripped a parsley plant growing in a container in December in southern Florida. I think one of its friends was also eating a young pepper plant but I didn't see it or catch it. I only saw the results. Thanks, Moni!

Comments for black caterpillar with white band (Black swallowtail caterpillar )

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Black swallowtail caterpillar
by: Moni

Hi Mayo!
Your caterpillar is the black swallowtail. They love parsley and all related plants. This caterpillar feeds primarily on plants of the carrot family and some in the Rue Family. It is usually found on dill, parsley, fennel, carrot, lovage, and rue in gardens, and queen-anne's-lace and poison hemlock in the wild.

Birds do not bother this caterpillar because it will stick out smelly orange "horns" to prevent predators or us from picking them up. It is possible for caterpillars to be parasitized by flies and wasps.

The larvae change color quite dramatically with each molt. Yours is probably a 3rd stage (instar) because it is still black with a white band around it's middle. The last stage ( 5th instar) is green with black bands dotted with orange or yellow spots on each segment. The pupa has two forms - brown and green.
It overwinters as a pupa/chrysalis in northern states.

The adult butterfly is black with yellow spots for the male and yellow with blue spots for the female. They are a common garden butterfly.

They are found from Rocky Mts eastward in North America, also southwestern United States, and south to northern South America.

This insect does not bite.

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Black-headed yellow caterpillar (Sawfly larvae )

by Amir
(New Port Richey, Florida, USA)


Saw a caravan of thousands of these crawling along the boardwalk handrails of a park next to Tarpon Lake north of Tampa, Florida, with no beginning or end in sight. Interesting wasp-like six big legs in front, nearly all had bent tails like in the picture, partly translucent yellow bodies revealing black masses within, and black heads.

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Sawfly larvae
by: Moni

Amir
Your photo is of a sawfly larva. As you suggested by saying the legs looked wasp-like...this insect is related to wasps.

Sawflies are in the Order Hymentoptera along with bees and wasps. The adults are similar in appearance to wasps, but do not have the narrow "wasp waist", and they do not sting. The female’s ovipositor is long and serrated. It is used to "saw" into leaves to deposit eggs.

These larvae look much like butterfly caterpillars except they have too many prolegs to be caterpillars. In the photograph, the true legs are clearly seen, 3 pairs of legs tell us it is an insect. If the underside of the tail area could be seen you would notice 6 pair of prolegs (prolegs are not segmented legs like the front, but stubby legs that help larva stabilize and move their long soft bodies). Butterfly and moth caterpillars have 2-4 pair of prolegs.

Most sawflies feed on specific plants, if we knew what these were feeding on we might know the species. They kind of look like willow oak sawfly larva...are there oaks nearby? If they were feeding on a small oak and ran out of food that might be why they are moving...to find more food.

Sawflies are found through out North America.

This insect does not sting or bite.

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Black gold face , butt & horn (White-lined sphinx moth caterpillar)

by Julie
(Grand Rapis Michigan kent county)


Looks similar to tomato worm but legs shorter & head not so big. Face,butt & horn are gold 2.5" long

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White-lined sphinx moth caterpillar
by: Moni

Julie
Your caterpillar, the white-lined sphinx is related to the tomato hornworm like you thought. They are both in the Sphingidae family of moths. This family is known for the caterpillars to have tails or horns on the rear end.

Caterpillars of this moth do vary greatly in color, from green to black with splotches. This particular species does have the orangish-yellow head, tail, and anal plate (that is the yellow butt you mentioned), which is distinctive for ID.

The moths look a little like hummingbirds as they fly from flower to flower gathering nectar. The straw-like mouthparts are long tubes for sucking nectar...it is fun to see them gathering nectar at dusk from petunias or other tubular flowers.

This particular sphinx moth does fly during the day as well as at night. The gray moth does have a distinct white line (and a few smaller white lines) on its front wing that gives it its name. The underwing is pink with black edging.

While the moths do feed on nectar, the caterpillars feed on a wide variety of plants like purslane, primrose, and plants in the rose family. They are not considered a pest of any crop.

This insect is found all over North America, Central America as well as Eurasia and Africa.

This insect does not bite or sting.

Black with gold
by: Julie

That's great! I do have the hummingbird moths & tons of purslane (so?) Thanks for taking the time to help me out.

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Brown with tan belly, yellow markings (Yellow-striped armyworm)

by Mrs. Cameron
(Concord NH)


Our caterpillar was found outside cold and not moving by our kindergarten children on our child care center playground in New Hampshire. He is approximately 1.5 inches long; mostly brown with a tan underside and yellow markings towards his end and sides.

We're curious what type of caterpillar he is; how to best care for him for the winter (temperature, food, habitat); and if he'll become a butterfly or moth.

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Yellow-striped armyworm
by: Moni

Mrs. Cameron
It is challenging to id many of the various cutworms or armyworms as they are variable in color and look similar. Your caterpillar is probably the yellow-striped armyworm. It turns into a moth.
It is found in eastern states of the US to KS, southeastern Canada, and across the southern US states.

These caterpillars feed on many herbaceous plants, including alfalfa, asparagus, bean, beet, cabbage, clover, corn, cotton, cucumber, grape, grass, jimsonweed, morning glory, onion, pea, peach, peanut, pokeweed, sweet potato, tobacco, tomato, turnip, wheat, watermelon, and wild onion. It is a garden pest.

Adult emergence begins in early April and continues into May. Egg masses placed on foliage, trees, or buildings. Eggs hatch in about 6 days, and larvae feed for 3 weeks. Sixth instar larvae burrow into soil to pupate. Moths emerge in two weeks. Entire life cycle takes 4-6 weeks.
There can be 3-4 generations per year...more in southern states.

You and your students can try to rear the caterpillar. Since you found it so late in the season, I assume it is close to pupating if it has not done so since you sent in the photo. Rearing caterpillars is a challenge. Mother Nature does it best.
And just so you know ahead of time, when you find a caterpillar in the 'wild', sometimes they have been parasitized....meaning another insect like a fly or wasp has laid eggs inside the caterpillar. So when you try to rear it, it dies from the eggs inside it - not something you did or did not do...it is not something you can predict.
This caterpillar overwinters in pupa stage...so you will not see the moth until next spring. If your caterpillar is brown then it is about to pupate.

With all that said, the basics of rearing any insect is to feed it what it wants to eat...fresh food continually (never sprayed with insecticides). Then, when the caterpillar stops eating...they will typically go searching for a place to pupate.
You might want to find a large jar or old fashion fish bowl to raise your caterpillar. The container needs to be kept someplace where the temperatures are much like outside. Keep the container covered with a thin cloth or tight screen so no other insects or animals can get in to bother it.

Since you are in the north, where the ground freezes in winter, you will need to protect the pupa from freezing. Some folks put them in the refrigerator then put a drop of water on the cloth once a month thru the winter until the trees start to put out foliage (about April or early May). That is when you would bring the pupa container outside to let it be exposed to the normal weather and let it emerge like it might if it was in Nature. When you put the container outside... in a very protected area like a porch...put a stick in the container for the moth to climb up on.
This is a brief description and may not be enough for rearing but gives you an idea.
Please do more internet research about rearing caterpillars.

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